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Gavin Maines wins national archery title in shoot-off

WCHS junior bests field in his first try at NFAA indoor championship

Webster City junior Gavin Maines poses with his bow and trophy after winning the Freestyle Young Adult Male title at the 2021 NFAA Indoor National Championship in Yankton, S.D., last month. Submitted photo

WEBSTER CITY — Dan Yoder has watched Gavin Maines shred targets with his bow many times and thought he was a hidden gem in the middle of Iowa. Get him in front of a national audience, Yoder thought, and watch the heads turn.

“The kid is unreal,” Yoder said. “I helped him when he and his grandpa (Don Miller) got into the archery club in Webster City. He’s gotten some help along the way from some other people and he’s just taken it to another level.”

As it turns out, Yoder was right. The kid is good. Really good. In fact, there isn’t anyone better in the country.

Maines, a 16-year-old junior at Webster City High School, won a national title in his first ever try last month in Yankton, S.D. Competing in the 2021 National Field Archery Association (NFAA) Indoor Championship, he bested 28 other competitors in the Freestyle Young Adult Male division.

“I’d never gone to nationals before and so, going in, I just wanted to get in the top 10 because I thought that would be pretty good,” Maines said. “After the first day I was in second place and I knew I had a chance, but I had some ground to make up.”

Maines trailed Kolbe Borrelli of Arizona after the initial 60 arrows on Day 1, but drew even in the final end with back-to-back Xs in the center of the target.

Over the 120 arrows over two days, Maines and Borrelli both hit 115 of 120 Xs. And the national title was decided in a shoot-off.

“I felt more confident in the shoot-off than I did on those last two arrows,” Maines said. “It can be a second nature, but situations like that are never easy. My stomach sinks and you just get nervous, that’s the only way to put it.”

For the shoot-off, Maines and Borrelli each had 10 chances at an inside-out — a shot inside the center circle without touching the line. Maines connected on nine of his 10 attempts, one better than Borrelli.

“I can’t usually do that on demand and I don’t know how I could this time,” Maines said. “I had a lot of stuff going through my head after I won.”

Right by Maines side was his grandpa Don, who has been a big influence on his life.

“He’s just very supportive and with me at all of this stuff,” Maines said.

Maines has been shooting since 2014 and has taken part in competitions for 31⁄2 years. He won the 2020 Iowa State Pro-Am, also in a shoot-off.

And after winning a national crown, Maines says he’s more hopeful that he’ll someday be able to make a career out of his passion.

“It’s definitely a cool feather in the cap, but my dream has always been to be a professional,” he said. “This gives me hope that it may be possible, even though it’s hard to do.”

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